Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed his disagreement with the fact that “judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States.” The judge is Derrick Watson, who blocked President Trump’s travel ban. Judge Watson is a Federal Judge, who was nominated by a President and confirmed by the Senate. The island in the Pacific is Oahu, the location of Judge Watson’s chambers in the state of Hawaii. That’s right, the Attorney General minimized the importance of a state because he didn’t agree with the politics coming out of that state.
While Sessions’ comments seem to be the first instance of a statement that diminishes a state’s importance directly from the Trump administration, this rhetoric is not new among our supporters. When I was at a conference in D.C. in December, I argued with a Trump supporter over which candidate received more votes, because for some reason, that’s up for debate. Even though Donald Trump did win the electoral vote, which I admitted, I asserted that almost 2 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. When he told me I was wrong, I asked how. His response: “Well, when you take out California, Trump clearly won the popular vote.”
As a Californian, I was shocked. California is the most populous state in the nation, and the 6th largest economy in the world. And I, along with any other Californian, am an American just as much as anyone else. California has more representatives in the U.S. House than any other state. And for someone to tell me that my state shouldn’t be counted in the American popular vote was a downright insult. I am proud to be an American. I am proud to have a voice in our government, to exercise the American right to participate in the democratic process. Any Californian would’ve been insulted to hear the comments that I heard at that conference. However, as offended as I was, I ultimately dismissed the statement, because that one Trump supporter had no actual power, and quite frankly he just sounded dumb.
However, when a statement that dismisses an entire state comes from the Attorney General of the United States, it’s much more offensive and much more dangerous. The fact is, the President of the United States is bound to serve the entire United States; he is not just the president of all the states that agree with him. It is inappropriate and offensive for a member of the president’s cabinet to discredit a state because a federal judge from that state issued a ruling that the president disagreed with. That kind of statement sends the message to every citizen in that state that their opinions don’t matter. It is an insult and a serious misconception of how a democracy operates. Even worse, it gives a false sense of credibility to people like that Trump supporter I met in D.C., and it makes more and more people start to believe in the ludicrous idea that some states just don’t matter.